Flavor Focus | December 2017 | By Danny Klein

Chipotle Changes Queso Recipe After Negative Feedback

Mixed reaction to its highly anticipated launch of queso led the brand to revamp the recipe.
Chipotle's queso didn't go over so well the first time around. Chipotle
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By now, you’ve heard the reviews. Chipotle’s queso didn’t exactly receive the kindest feedback from customers on social media. Perhaps the biggest complaint was its grainy texture. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the fast casual burrito chain is already reworking the recipe in hopes of salvaging one of its most anticipated product launches in company history.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Bloomberg that the new queso has a “creamier texture, and a really nice spicy flavor.” Arnold added that Chipotle initially said it might tweak the recipe a bit.

Chipotle tested the product for nearly two months before rolling it out nationwide on September 12. It was featured in 350 restaurants in Southern California and Colorado and was served in Chipotle’s New York test kitchen a month prior to launch.

Nearly every Chipotle competitor offered a variation of queso, and the brand’s decision to finally add the popular dip was seen by some as a remedy to recent setbacks. That didn’t quite turn out to be the case. The launch didn’t balance out another food-safety crisis, security breach, and additional issues that have plagued the brand in recent months.

Chipotle’s muted same-store sales growth of 1 percent in the third quarter sent shares spiraling more than 30 percent in a two-day period.

Just last week, Chipotle also announced that founder Steve Ells was stepping down from his CEO role and a search to find a new leader “with demonstrated turnaround expertise to help address the challenges facing the company, improve execution, build customer trust, and drive sales,” was already underway.

Like the original product, the new queso is made without artificial ingredients. “Although queso was the No. 1 requested menu item, we never added it to our menu before now because we wouldn’t use the industrial additives used in most quesos,” Steve Ells said back in September. “Additives make typical queso very consistent and predictable, but are not at all in keeping with our food culture.”